Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bears Shine in the Woods!

Bear Nation goes national: In case you missed it, there have been stories about the Clairton Bears written in the New York Times, USA Today, Las Vegas Review-Journal a sports radio show broadcast from Las Vegas,  and a CBS national news spot on the Bears (see below)

#62 challenge: The Clairton Bears had reached the semi-final game for the PA Site Championship. Their opponent was highly touted Port Allegany whose quarterback needed one more TD to tie a state record for touchdown passes. Their star running back held several rushing records. Their record was 13-0. Yes, this would be a formidable opponent on paper. The game was played in a neutral site but the opposing fans were cordial and probably the best fans the Bears had faced in a while. No cat calls. No racial epithets. The team was much the same with no dirty ply and a good, hard-fought first half that saw CHS on the good side of an 8-6 lead. Then, in the second half the Bears awoke from their hibernation. They played like the Bears have played 61 times before and when the smoke had cleared the final score was Clairton 44, Port Allegany 12 (and that last TD came with 40 second's to play but gave their vaunted quarterback his record).

Clairton will meet Dunmore for the state championship this Friday at 1:00 EDT. Here is a clip from a Dunmore area newspaper: "Dunmore's powerful offensive line wore down Bellwood-Antis in the second half and the defense came up with three turnovers as the Bucks advanced to the PIAA Class A championship game with a 40-19 semifinal win Friday night at Central Mountain High School.Dunmore (14-1) will play defending state champ Clairton, a 37-6 (sic) winner over Port Allegany, on Friday at 1 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium. "It's really unbelievable," said Sal Marchese, whose forced fumble early in the third quarter helped turn a close game into a rout. "All the work we put in and it really pays off. I'm glad we work this hard." Just like the quarterfinal win last week, Dunmore punished an opponent physically in the second half. Daiqwon Buckley rushed for 223 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries, while Austin Seamon added 163 yards - 101 of those and both his touchdowns coming in the second half as the Bucks pulled away from a 19-13 halftime lead."

The game will be televised on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Do not lose focus: Somewhere early in the second half, Port Allegany's team quit believing they had a chance to win the game. Once a team does not believe they can win it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Witness the second half when CHS moved the ball at will and scored on series after series with their second and third string playing. The fullback who scored the final CHS TD is 5'5" in his platform shoes!

The offense played well and the defense played magnificently. Long after most baby boomers are gone these kids will tell their grandkids about the magical run by the little school that could and did.... with all odds stacked against them.

That's the good news. The bad news is that CHS is ranked academically among the bottom of schools in PA. That means that even students who are academically superior at the school will struggle in college. I know this from working with college athletes who came similarly academically challenged high schools. It is crucial that two things happen in order for our fellow alumni to be academically competitive in college. First, they need to be taught  college study and survival skills. This is being worked on both in the school and through a program started by Terrence Fort, Ted Kay, and other alumni before last year's championship game. The program is called "Reaching the Reachable," and they've done a fantastic job developing a cadre of successful alumni to address the needs of the students.

Equally important is that those seniors who go to post-secondary schools select schools that will provide academic support services and, particularly for those on athletic scholarships, choose a school that provides academic aftercare. That is, once athletic eligibility is exhausted, there needs to be a program that allows the student who has not completed a degree to come back for free or reduced tuition in exchange for some sort of community service.

The season is about to end but their future is just beginning.

A little blogging music Maestro, "We Are the Champions," by Queen.

Dr. Forgot

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